A team from ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich), an Engineering, Science, Technology, Mathematics and management university has built a Cube that can walk, jump and balance. The word Cubli comes from the English word Cube and the Swiss German, diminutive.
According to Gajamohan Mohanarajah, one of the researchers on the Cubli team, “It is not a Gyroscope. In a gyroscope the wheel spins at a high angular velocity to keep the orientation constant. In the Cubli, the controller uses the concept of reaction torque, a torque that the structure ‘feels’ when the motors attached to the structure accelerate/decelerate the wheels (Newton’s third law of motion).”
“And why reaction torques are better? They are more responsive towards external disturbances and keeping the wheel velocity around zero reduces a lot of vibration and noise, especially on the sensors,” he adds.
Google has been working hard to build it’s own robot army from a ground up. They’ve been creating massive speculation about their acquisition of 8 robotics companies in 6 months. This is indeed a big deal!
Their latest acquisition, Boston Dynamics is a Massachusetts-based company that’s behind all advanced military-grade robots like LR3 and ATLAS.
Google has also named Andy Rubin, the overseer of the Android Operating System to head it’s Robotics endeavours. According to the New York times, “The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.”
Although Boston Dynamics specializes in Military Robots, it’s highly unlikely that Google maybe intersted in becoming a military contractor. On the other hand, Google has been making its foray into the commercial possibilities that robotics could open up for the company.
“We have had a great time building unusual robots and bringing them this far along,” says Marc Raibert, the company’s founder, in an email statement to a media outlet, adding that the entire company will stay under Google ownership. “Now we can take them to the next level and push them much further ahead.”
Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 after being spun off from MIT. Since then, they’ve designed Cheetah – a robot that can reach speeds upto 29mph, BigDog – robot designed to traverse rough terrain and the anthropomorphic PETMAN designed to test chemical protection clothing. The profitable company has also been doing brisk business with the United States Department of Defense.
With a market capitalization of over $350 billion, I’m sure Google didn’t break a sweat in acquiring the company. There has been no mention of reasons why Google would want to build it’s robotics base. A while ago, it was announced that the Google owned Japanese robotics company SCHAFT won the DARPA Robotics Challenge Trials by a wide margin. It scored 27 on 32 beating it’s nearest competitor IHMC Robotics by 7 points. In the third place was Tartan rescue with 18 points and MIT in the fourth with 16 points.